Spriha Biswas of Jharkhand’s Tatanagar aspired to be a business owner after being inspired by JN Tata. Her two years at IIT Bombay inspired her to pursue her true calling of integrating business, technology, and product development.

Spriha Biswas topped the ICSE board exams in 2011, becoming the first student from Tatanagar (Jamshedpur) to do so. In line with the societal perception of success, she began preparing for the IIT JEE and qualified in 2013 with a rank of 1720. Biswas chose to study Metallurgical Engineering and Material Sciences at IIT Bombay.

IIT dropout series: This IIT-Bombay dropout found her true calling in helping healthcare sector with AI

“Somehow, my decision was influenced by my childhood ambitions, and I decided to go to IIT Bombay because I knew it had a good ecosystem for entrepreneurs,” the 27-year-old explained. Biswas, however, realised two years into the programme that she was no longer interested in attending metallurgical engineering classes. She made the bold and somewhat unconventional decision to drop out of IIT Bombay in 2015. She had learned to code in school and found her calling in the business world.

“In two years, I coded for about 20 different startups, including a fitness app that tracked body movements using Kinect and an app for Cilika, India’s first digital microscope.” I had also created and sold a feedback app to a city club. It was around this time that I learned about human-centered design, which opened up a new world for me. I knew I had to delve deep into it. “As a result, I dropped out of IIT Bombay in 2015,” she explained.

“I was captivated by video games and how they are a perfect synthesis of complex algorithms, arts, and psychology.” In school, I learned basic programming and began creating small games. “Creating a Java version of Minesweeper was one of my proudest moments,” she said.

Growing up in Tatanagar had a significant influence on her as a child. “When I was 15, I read about JN Tata and all the leaders who helped build Tata over the years.” It deeply moved me. I just knew I wanted to run my own business when I grew up, and I couldn’t wait to get started. “However, I was not learning any of this at IIT because our education system is incapable of developing business minds at such a young age,” Biswas added.

When asked if she could pursue her technical interests while studying at IIT Bombay, Biswas replied, “After a point, I was not able to take classes for the sake of a degree.” I had lost interest in pursuing a degree that would be of little or no use in my future career. It was better to take a chance than to become a bad engineer.”

Her decision to drop out of a prestigious institute such as IIT Bombay did not sit well with her family. “They thought I’d gone insane and tried to counsel me.” However, after a patient discussion with my parents, they realised that it was not just a random interest area. “It was my true passion, my true calling,” Spriha said, explaining how she learned about ethnographic research, data-driven design, behavioral studies, and usability studies, as well as a solid foundation in what it means to build responsible and humane technology.